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Perth men charged more than $35k for illegal sale of rock lobster

It was established that paella sold via Smith’s catering business in 2014 and 2015 contained lobster.  

​​Two Perth men have been left with hefty fines after a Fisheries investigation found they were illegally selling rock lobster in two separate cases.

Kinglsley man, Jason Kevin Smith was found guilty of 16 charges and ordered to pay $75,264 in fines, mandatory penalties and costs in Perth Magistrate’s Court on August 9.

The magistrate also ruled that $38,500 being held as security against a returned seized vessel be forfeited.  

The court heard that during a search of Smith’s residence on February 7, 2016, 26 plastic containers holding 13.69 kilograms of processed rock lobster flesh were located in the kitchen freezer.

The court also heard that on two other occasions the 48-year-old had illegally sold a total of 15 whole lobsters and 22 cooked lobster tails from his home. 

During the search, Fisheries officers also seized records which through forensic examination and further enquiries proved over 11 illegal sales of rock lobster.

It was established that paellas sold via a catering business owned by Smith in 2014 and 2015 contained lobster sections or flesh.   

He was also charged for fishing for lobster using more than two pots, contrary to regulations for any holder of a recreational rock lobster fishing licence.

In a separate case, 75-year-old, Hamilton Hill man Carmelo Pensabene pleaded guilty in Fremantle Court on August 6.

Pensabene was issued with fines, penalties and costs totaling $36,088.30. 

DPIRD’s application to suspend Pensabene’s recreational boat fishing licence and recreational rock lobster fishing licence was granted with the court ordering an eight month suspension for both. 

The court was told that across five separate occasions Pensabene either sold, or offered for sale, a total of 87 rock lobster or rock lobster tails and, when a search warrant was executed on his residence, he was found in possession of eight unclipped tails and 3.72 kilos of tail flesh. 

Recreational fishers who take and keep any rock lobster must tail clip or tail punch the rock lobster and are not allowed to store rock lobster flesh, unless it is being consumed or prepared for immediate consumption.

DPIRD Manager Regional Compliance Metro Todd A’Vard said both cases were very serious and a reminder that Fisheries and Marine Officers had the expertise and resources to carry out complex investigations and would do so to secure illegal seafood sales convictions.

“It is illegal to sell or barter with recreationally-caught fish in Western Australia,” he said. 

“Individuals with traffickable amounts in priority fish, like abalone and rock lobster, could face four year’s imprisonment or fines up to $400,000, as well as court orders, licence suspensions and vehicle or vessel forfeitures. Body corporates may be fined up to $800,000 for trafficking.”

Anyone who suspects illegal fishing activity or sales is urged to call FishWatch, 1800 815 507.

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